Dragon Quest Builders 2 PC review – the hidden video game gem of 2019

Square Enix’s charming mix of Minecraft creativity and Dragon Quest style role-playing tries to build its audience on PC.

Considering how popular it is you’d think there’d be a lot more Minecraft clones than there actually are. There are plenty of no-budget indie copycats, that nobody’s ever heard of, but major publishers have done almost nothing to try and compete. You know… except for that time Microsoft bought Mojang for $2.5 billion. But beyond that the only real big (or at least medium) budget challenger has been Dragon Quest Builders, and it’s a real shame neither it nor its sequel has been more successful.

In Japan, Dragon Quest is one of the biggest franchises around, a family friendly role-player that’s even more popular than Final Fantasy. It’s never seen much success in the West though and while the recent Dragon Quest 11 had its pleasures, the plodding pace and simplistic combat and characters is still very much an acquired taste. Dragon Quest Builders 2 though has enough going on to entertain almost anyone that tries it.

As you can see from the screenshots and videos, it looks a lot like Minecraft and you’re able to mine and build objects and buildings in a very similar manner. However, the main game mode has a lengthy and involving story campaign that goes far beyond anything in Minecraft. It’s hokey and goofy in the way that Dragon Quest always is, but it gradually introduces all the different gameplay elements in a way that makes it much easier to get into than Minecraft.

As well as a proper story and characters, Dragon Quest Builders 2 also has real-time combat against cartoonish monsters and a very helpful computer-controlled ally who helps reduce the amount of busywork when mining. Each area also has a very distinct geography and culture, to the point where you can even draw some loose comparisons with Zelda: Breath Of The Wild – especially when you consider the simple shrine puzzles dotted around the landscape.

There’s little to be gained from the game being on PC, compared to any other formats – especially when mods aren’t really an issue when you’re already building your own worlds – but the release this month is the final chance for the game to prove a hit outside of Japan.

Maybe Dragon Quest’s unique brand of whimsy just isn’t something Western gamers are ever going to get behind, but regardless of which franchise it’s a part of Dragon Quest Builders 2 is one of the best open world experiences of the year.

CLICK HERE FOR THE ORIGINAL FULL REVIEW OF DRAGON QUEST BUILDERS 2

Dragon Quest Builders 2 PC review summary

In Short: The best Minecraft clone there’s ever been, whose storytelling and role-playing aspects build up into a very different kind of experience.

Pros: The mining and crafting is easy to get into but still highly customisable, and blend well with the traditional role-playing elements. Fun open world environments, with charming visuals and dialogue.

Cons: Simplistic combat and generally clunky controls. Story progression can be very linear even if the exploration is not, with some dull mission quests.

Score: 8/10

Formats: PC (reviewed), Xbox One, PlayStation 4, and Nintendo Switch
Price: £49.99
Publisher: Square Enix
Developer: Omega Force and Square Enix
Release Date: 10th December 2019
Age Rating: 7

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